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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Garry Doyle

Richie Towell the hero as Shamrock Rovers down St Pat's

Shamrock Rovers 3-2 St Pat’s

This was a victory for the team who refused to throw in the Towell.

Behind in the first half, then pegged back to 2-2 with the clock running down, Shamrock Rovers kept huffing and puffing until eventually they got what they wanted: three goals, three points.

It keeps them top, keeps those four-in-a-row dreams intact, and cements the view they are the team to beat this year.

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And they know who to thank.

Played in front of a 6,212 crowd, Rovers came from 1-0 down to equalise through Lee Grace just before half-time and then took the lead via Richie Towell midway through the second half.

When Ben McCormack wiped out that lead, with seven minutes remaining, Towell stepped up again - this time from the penalty spot - to net the winner.

And that was that.

For St Pat’s, this is a bitter pill. They have shown real signs of improvement in recent weeks and played with intent and spirit here. A draw would have been merited but in the end, Rovers had more of a cutting edge in the areas that count.

It was an absorbing opening half, each side enjoying periods of dominance, the pattern of the game switching in an instant, Rovers on top initially, then Pat’s for a lengthy period, before Rovers reasserted their authority by scoring just before half-time.

How do you explain all that?

Well, here goes.

The early Rovers pressure stemmed from their adventurous approach, Stephen Bradley encouraging his wide players to press high on the flanks, Ricardo Lopes often left one on one at the back with just Eoin Doyle, the Pat’s striker, for company.

Was this because they didn’t respect the pace in the Pat’s attack?

You’d guess so yet soon they were discovering other qualities that Doyle and his namesake Mark possessed as the pattern of the game switched around the 20-minute mark.

Pats’ Mark Doyle scores a goal (©INPHO/Evan Treacy)

Chris Forrester’s influence had plenty to do with the turnaround, the St Pat’s skipper finding pockets of space in advanced areas, especially down their left channel, where Ronan Finn found himself increasingly outnumbered.

Sure enough this was the area where the opening goal came from, Rovers inexcusably trying to play it out from the back, at a time when Pat’s were organised and alert to the home side’s plan.

It didn’t take them long to disrupt it, Mark Doyle and Jamie Lennon combining to dispossess Graham Burke of possession, Forrester making his own contribution just then, nutmegging Gary O’Neill, to free Mark Doyle whose shot took a big deflection off Roberto Lopes before hitting the post and going in.

It was a big moment but the problem for Pat’s from there until half-time was that they started losing little ones. Eventually, Rovers found a way back into the game, Burke getting free on the edge of the box to get the room to bang in a fierce, right-footed shot which Dean Lyness pushed away.

The reprieve lasted just a few seconds, though, as Jack Byrne’s subsequent corner-kick was headed home by Lee Grace. With that it was half-time and given the context of how we’d arrived at that stage, you fancied Rovers to press on and win it.

And so they did.

Farrugia came more into the game in the second half even though he is more suited to the right than the left but the difference was Towell.

His goal on 68 minutes was brilliant, starting from deep inside their own half, containing six passes - the best of them being Burke’s outside of the foot pass wide to Ronan Finn whose chipped cross found an advancing Towell, who scored with a diving header.

Serge Atakayi, the Pat’s sub, then provided a surge of pace to reach Lyness’ clearance, but sidefooted just wide of Pohls’ goal.

Next came Sam Curtis’ shot. Pohls pushed it out; McCormack banged in the rebound.

That made it 2-2.

Game over? Not at all. Grivosti fouled Johnny Kenny to leave Towell with a chance, two minutes from time to win it. And that was exactly what he did.


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